Belonging-Your Child and Family Trees

Read about being a mother of 12 as our resident 'Supermom' shares her wise parenting advice.

Battling the baby blues

With the birth of my twelfth and last child, I felt myself battling the baby blues. Somehow this final child closed a window on a time in my life that seemed full and fruitful. Knowing that I could not have more children filled me with despair. I had done nothing but raise children for so long that I felt at loose ends. I needed something to make me feel connected once again to the world at large.

Life was rosy, once again

My mother in-law came to my rescue with a postpartum gift: our first PC. After I mastered the use of the mouse and Spider Solitaire, I moved on to exploration of the World Wide Web, where I found myself at a genealogy site and entered my mother's maiden name in a database. I soon found my family research consuming most of my time, which was a good thing-I pulled out of my slump and found that life was rosy, once again.

Their very own history

One of the best things about my family research was the added benefit of providing my children with a context for their personal space in the universe. So many of us are here by happy accident; someone missed the boat and met their future spouse on the next boat over, a grenade exploding two feet from a soldier grandfather; making for a narrow escape, or immigration quotas that forced an ancestor to make for a different continent. Watching my children's faces as I recited the facts of their history, I knew that what I had done to cheer myself up had also served a separate purpose; making my children fuller people and grounding them within their very own history. I loved watching their faces light up as they listened to the family tales. I also loved having them ask me to repeat specific family stories, knowing that these anecdotes had become beloved to them.

Learning about the family tree can help your child feel that he belongs; that there's a niche for him in society. Whether you dig deep or just skim the surface, the stories you uncover about the generations that preceded his existence will make him a fuller person. But there are other dividends to family research. The child who has no knack for memorizing dates and the dry facts taught in history class will find that history comes alive for him in the context of his personal family story.